BELLAIRE - When Jose Davis was considering taking over the St. John Central football program, there was a bit of trepidation at the outset.
''I remember my first team meeting,'' Davis recalled Sunday. ''Myself and Ty Masciarelli were sitting there with kids, with me giving a look like 'wowzers.' ... It was, 'is this really what we want to get into doing?'
''It's like anything. People thought I was nuts.
Things are looking up at St. John Central, both on and off the field. The latest development is the building of this fieldhouse at the Irish Youth Sports Complex.
''But this is the way it usually happens. You don't walk into a program with 10 Division-I recruits running around.''
Fast forward several months and the vision Davis had, with tons of help from Jeff Paolina, is suddenly much clearer. The Irish are set to have 33 team members this fall, and the new fieldhouse that is going up at the Irish Youth Sports Complex is the biggest shining example of the commitment that is being put forth.
''The funny thing is, it has been in the process well before me,'' Davis said. ''Once I started meeting with them and was thinking about taking the job, that was one of the biggest things for me.
''I'm very shocked at our (quick) progress right now.''
The fieldhouse, when completed, will be roughly 4,000 square feet and it will sit adjacent to the school's football field. It will include a weight room, a home locker room, meeting rooms, public restrooms and some storage space, and it's believed at some point it will be a two-story facility.
''Having the ability to work out and walk right onto field is huge. I have never had that,'' Davis said. ''The frame is pretty much complete and the shell will be up this year, so we'll have an actual place to go and sit down at halftime of games.
''Now, that's ours. We don't have to bus to the school and get dressed and have halftime in a tent. That's not a knock on them, but that's junior high-ish."
More than all of those things though, the building of the fieldhouse simultaneously signifies the rebirth of a once-proud program.
''I met with the football moms one of the first months I was here and let them know, trust me, trust in what I am doing and I will never put your kid in position to be in danger,'' Davis said. ''I told them I am going to be yelling at their kids sometimes, but believe me when I say I am doing it because I expect great things from them and I love them. When I stop yelling at them, that is when you should be worried.
''I told them 'you guys are just as important as I am, because everyone at home must be preaching the same thing we are here.'
''As it has come along month to month, we're seeing the difference. We're such a different team from May, and from the beginning of July.''
A lot of that credit, Davis said, goes to Paolina.
''Think about what it took for him to hand me the keys,'' Davis said of the former coach who stepped aside so he could take control. ''Anything I have needed he has been there for me. All he cares about is St. John, and he realizes either it gets turned around or the doors close.
''Jeff is a businessman and he doesn't want half a million dollars tied into a football field that has no team.''
One of perhaps the most overlooked impacts on the immediate future of the Fighting Irish was Davis recently leading Ohio to a victory against West Virginia in the Rudy Mumley OVAC Football Game.
''Some kids had never seen me coach. They had seen the stuff we have wanted to do in weight room, but they had never seen in action,'' Davis said.
''It's been pretty cool."